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Monthly Archives: December 2008

This  assignment made me realize how prejudiced I had become against hood literature. Apparently, an indifference to violence and unending tales of ghetto terror had developed. What was once shocking intrigue had become trendy and over populated with an engorgement of talented writers, all consumed with out shocking each other by assaulting intelligent readers with everything from violence to vice…..and every cuss word in between.

Residents come and go, but the Hood is constant, and Time has taken its toll on Bentley Manor, focal point in this installment and safe keeper of its desperate and destitute denizens. Decades strong, the apartment complex stands aimless and proud, its innards infested with junkies, hustlers,  and  kids pulling tricks in urine scented hallways.

Some stereotypes are to be expected, but the writers (Meesha Mink and De’nesha Diamond) have instilled facets and shades of these men that made them stand out not just as individuals, but also by displaying a sensitivity……a compassion for their surroundings that was most inspiring. Shocking elements were finely balanced by unexpected vulnerabilities. A fresh first person narrative sealed the deal, making for a vivid treat.

The authors found excellent pitch for the voices of the entities portrayed: a pimp that was shockingly oblivious to most everything but  business, a player, a killer, and a drug dealer, one that intended to keep his game drama free. As clichéd as the crew sounds, the introductions, the interludes, the interactions, the initiations were all executed with candor and sincerity.                                                                                                                                                                                                Unforced; quite busy,  yet never precocious.

Crisp.

This book changed my perspective on hood novels.  Accurately capturing the authenticity of the Atlanta inner city locale was an extra treat.

“I wish I had more hands”…….. I would give this novel three thumbs up.

Ð. Stylz

Editor in Chief

Chaklet Coffee Books

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This wonderfully crafted tale spans one evening, with the author using flashbacks to paint the slate of her creations. She takes measures to slow the passing of time, instilling a sense of dread and gloom. Magnified by well proportioned chapters that jolt the reader in and out of the time stream, Ms. Jacobs delivers sound storytelling, with character lamentations that drive the story, equaling time on the clock. So were memories heralding their lusty Internet beginnings; an elevator ride and a walk down the hall is a journey within  a journey, the author also using impatience as a tool to reveal the true nature of the beast.

Anticipation also affected the time sense. Jeff and Jeanine’s surface reason for meeting at The RestStop was for a session of extreme sex. Their excitement was infectious, with mutually driven bliss giving rise to visions of past conquests, bathing the reader in flickering lights, reliving past expressions of their flagrant lustfulness.

With both parties claiming sexual abuse in their histories, the players were victims by their own right and pinpointing the antagonist will be a heavenly task for the reader. Both parties  are the product of incidents that leaves them mentally crippled and in some sense, ageless. In one case, the perpetrator extended the further courtesy of forgetting his victim after the unspeakable act was committed. In the other,  those that witnessed atrocities were left feeling disengaged and predacious.

Some of these missteps were a products of the last generation. These flashbacks also set the stage to avenge a wrong created in THIS generation, rendering the aggressor  blameless, depending on the point of view.

Jeff was a product of his environment; he hated women. Rather, he thought he hated women. Either way, his upbringing made not a lot of accommodations for women, ladies, or anything maternal, his only appreciation being that of unattached pleasure.

One could classify this as a tale of Man vs. Self. Said issues were instilled in the players by generational devices, allowing the reader to feel empathetic for the characters even at their most vile.

That being said, once themes of retribution and revenge are sprinkled into the equation, the true victim remains unclear and things begin to proceed in fashions unforeseen. A chance Internet meeting, they both participate in the orchestration of  engagement, with one both parties seeking to make a statement of the occasion.
Sex as a weapon; a weapon of distraction, of dominance, of degradation.

Ms. Jacobs’ concoction is a tasty pleasure, a sweet treat.

Ð. Stylz

Editor in Chief

Chaklet Coffee Books

POSSESSION

………………a novel by Da’Neen Hale

The torrid tale of Yaasa and Chee.

As a man, Chee’s feelings of loss and needing to feel the comfort of Love were easy to relate to.
His threat was palpable, and as disgusting as second hand smoke. His actions in public were barbaric. The author’s absolute thoroughness in her creation of Chee, making him an incomplete man that lost and  forever missed developmental nurturing, was manifested not only in Yaasa’s fear of what has happened, but also in her dejectedness by allowing the tragedy to continue. He wasn’t always savage, with most of his sick subtleties being equally as disturbing as his savagery was shocking. I couldn‘t begin to assess the damage that he claimed in his misguided pursuit of Yaasa.

POSSESSION had a primetime feel to it. Her time sense most fluid, instilling contempt and urgency in her readers early on; I read portions of this piece with open mouthed  disgust.

Handy tools that Ms. Hale saw fit to bless her readers with: domestic abuse statistics including the toll free number for the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE), and a list of questions that would be helpful in creating dialogue for book discussion.

POSSESSION was not about domestic violence; it‘s a tale of an angry, misguided man that let the best thing that ever happened to him slip through his fingers…….and he hated himself for it.

I enjoyed the time I spent with Ms. Hale’s creation. Although I was sometimes overwhelmed with consumer branding she more than made up for it with her relentless route to the climax.

Write on, Ms Hale.

Ð. Stylz

Editor in Chief

Chaklet Coffee Books

It was my pleasure to read Erotica Unveiled, a
novel that delivers heat in nineteen chapters.

Her stories are like glass etchings; hard,
elegant, and precise artwork, with heat added
through bold strokes of color and imagery. Told
in grand fashion, male and female readers
alike will appreciate the method of  story telling
employed by this New York native, effortlessly
depicting scene after scene of seductive word
manipulation that induces throbbing, stroking,
swooning, spillage, and love making, in no
particular order.

She knows when to thrust, when to touch, and
when to hush, allowing the rush of the climax to
ebb and flow into the next slam dance of carnal
insight, sucking you in, riding you like a horse
with flaring nostrils…..until the last drops
soundlessly spot the floor……..leaving you
alone with your thoughts, listening for an echo
that never existed.

Ivanna Howles will wrap you up in this,
her first foray into adult fiction. I had the
pleasure of catching Ms. Howles in an
interview last weekend. She was excitedly
discussing the projects that she has on the
horizon; her shyness was a captivating facet of
the smoldering vixen within and a testament of
her ability to pleasure her readers with a
variety of scandalous scenarios.

An absolute gem.

Who loves The House of Payne ?

Some have labeled him an egomaniac for his ‘lackluster’ contribution to television, while others supported his pursuit virtually sight unseen on the strength of his name alone. Whichever side you claim, the vision that gave life to Tyler Perry’s sitcom vision was most clever and a unique approach to a successful bid in the dying arena of sitcom television.

He paid for ten episodes out of his own pocket and gave them to TBS, eliminating outside production costs; I’m not sure what the promotion specifics were initially, but it’s heavily advertised now. He then negotiated an order for one hundred episodes, an unprecedented number for a sitcom in any market, primetime or independent.

Rather than the standard filming of 22 episodes a season, all one hundred episodes were taped within a year, with the network airing them two, sometimes four, original episodes a night. That’s the equivalent of about five standard sitcom years, the very definition of sitcom success. An accomplishment made even sweeter by the absence of the typical sitcom issues: characters being recast/leaving, puberty, weight gain, just to name a few.

With a taping schedule that galloped, what are labeled as seasons Three, Four, and Five, aired in the months of March, June, and December of 2008. With the expense of the sitcom rising, syndicated networks that have a little extra money to play with sometimes seek original content to fulfill their needs, a trend that renders programming cost efficient and profitable, not to mention a bit more exciting by avoiding the classic sitcom graveyard that is inevitable in most outlets.

Instant longevity is another facet of this scenario. Here is an entity that wouldn’t just fade away into nothingness if the public didn’t catch on in twenty two episodes. This show couldn’t disappear even if it wanted to: as of September 22, 2008, MyNetworkTV added the Paynes to their line up in some cities along with FOX Network media outlets. Networks rarely show dedication or loyalty to shows that don’t get an almost instant public following, especially in the case of sitcoms. Simply being on the air is a huge accomplishment, especially after UPN/WB merger.

Since there are so many episodes, it could never suffer the same fate as Frank’s Place.

Frank’s Place received the Television Critics Association award for ‘outstanding comedy series’ in 1987. The same year, it also won an Emmy for ‘best writing in a comedy series’. The show was praised for its realistic portrayal of black culture in New Orleans. Airing on CBS in 1987, it was among the first series to be described as a dramedy, its innovative presentation praised by critics, its exceptional writing style acknowledged by the awards and accolades that the series snagged in its twenty two episode lifespan.

But this is no Frank’s Place. Critics and folks trashed The House of Payne immediately, calling it “one of the worst sitcoms of the modern era”, criticizing the show’s pacing and the ‘aimlessness’ of its narrative.

Call it what you will, it’s a capsule of nostalgia for the next generation. Fifteen years from now, the children that sit at the feet and watch and LAUGH with the First Generation Tyler Perry fans, will view for comfort and familiarity. Almost like a 21st century Good Times. You might not have a Thelma, but you do have a Claretha.

I’m a Curtis Payne fan, his offbeat execution drawing unexpected laughter. Jazmine is too jazzy for me at times; I give credit to the young actress for being consistently nerve grating, the ultimate little sister……..and I love me some Claretha.

…..my mind wanders to Mister Brown.

I hated Brown on sight. Then again, I had yet to meet him, his earnest country charm as dominant as he is clueless. My exposure to Brown was in the cinema. If he’s a little spaced out well, I can dig that; the man slept with Madea.

I was always comfortable with TPP in the cinema. Viewing his properties in reverse order enabled me to see the transitioning from stage production to the silver screen. Whatever I was doing during the stage play home invasion of Tyler Perry I missed the boat entirely.

I saw Meet the Browns with a die hard fan and was informed of any shortcomings, production parallels, or specific continuity issues. The events of the two part The House of Payne episode “Sad, Sad, Leroy Brown” occurs directly before the movie, when Brown learns about his father’s death. “Weeping May Endure for a Night” happened somewhere in the middle of the movie, directly after the funeral and the reading of the will, where Brown found out that his father left him a broken-down house….the one that Brown converted into a retirement home. Also in this episode, the Paynes indicate that they attended Brown’s father’s funeral. Curtis claimed Brown made them wait in the cemetery for 2 hours while Brown fulfilled his father’s last request: a tour around Atlanta. While two of the series actors appeared in the movie, none of their characters were portrayed. A weekly production centering around Brown is slated to drop in January 2009.

Madea’s involvement in The House of Payne limits her larger than life approach, her wit much too quick for a laugh track to contain her. With the exception of Season Four, she has appeared in one episode per season. Her inclusion in Meet the Browns seemed like a gratuitous step in overexposure. It didn’t make sense at the time, but it’s the ultimate showcase for Madea Goes to Jail due Spring 2009, with Keke Palmer reprising the role she portrayed in both Diary of a Mad Black Woman and The House of Payne.

For the critics, the harsher critics, I would like to say this: It can only get better. Timing is as important to me as continuity….perhaps even more important since timing is dealt with more directly.

Continuity? That’s nothing but dedication.

With a over a hundred episodes behind them, new episodes in December and 26 more set to debut in the summer of 2009, the well seasoned crew should be glistening with slickness of ease.

Ð. Stylz
Editor in Chief
Chaklet Coffee Books